¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 8:02 a.m.

Over the weekend I went nearly 2 hours each way to the closest dealership with a demo Alta Redshift SM so that I could find out whether the thing was as good as it seems on paper.  If you don't know about the bike, just google the name and you'll get lots of marketing fluff as well as a few legitimate reviews.  Here's a picture of one:  

To give a general overview, the Redshift SM is the first truly balls-to-the-wall electric supermoto on the market.  It's fast, it's light, it has real adjustable suspension, and Alta claims it's good for 60 miles of commuting or 3x 20 minute race heats.  If those were both true, I'd be doing my best Philip J. Fry impression and slapping the salesman with my wallet.


Looking the bike over before they tossed me the keys, I see a lot of KTMishness.  Nice welded aluminum bits everywhere, very little unnecessary weight, and even the plastics seem to be high quality.  The plastic rear subframe is an interesting feature.  As far as electric stuff, the motor is actually built into the frame and uses it as a heatsink- I think the inverter does too but it's hard to tell.  The battery, on the other hand, is just sort of hung in the frame where one would expect a single cylinder internal combustion engine to be, and looks like more of an afterthought than anything else on the bike.


Starting the bike requires a key turn, a switch to be on, and a button press, which is a good thing because other than a pulsing green light on the dash it gives no indication whatsoever that it's ready to run.  No noise.  I've been informed by the salesman that there are 4 performance maps and I should definitely start out in 1, it being the slowest and least likely to murder me.

Setting off is interesting with no clutch, but map 1 has a lot of padding and keeps things uneventful.  It's very weird hearing the whine of the electric motor and the clank of the chain, but above about 25mph all I can hear is wind anyway.   Riding down a fairly major and boringly straight road, I play with the  performance maps and determine that 1 is terrible, 2 is probably good for rain or gravel, 3 is fun, and 4 is berkeleying excellent.

Turning onto a twistier side road, I take off in map 4 and HOT DAMN IT SCOOTS.  It may actually be as fast as the 1125cc twin I'm used to riding, at least up to 50mph or so, and the throttle response is absolutely instantaneous.  Handling and brakes are similarly excellent, the bike is super tossable, stable when leaned over, and predictable.  Everything is responsive, the electric motor actually sounds berkeleying cool when you can hear it, and the weird almost velcro sound of the tires when cornering hard is something I've never been able to hear before.  The battery is draining alarmingly fast in map 4, so I switch to 3 after a minute or so.

Now, I had read about overheating issues in map 4- part of my goal on this ride was to determine whether that was still a problem if left in the slightly more sane map 3, and whether the bike has any real range in that map.  So, I tried to mimic my usual backroads commute, in map 3, having a good time but not really pushing it, and using lots of regen braking... and it was excellent, for about 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, the yellow overheat warning came on, and battery remaining was down to roughly 35%- I had gone 12 miles.  I waited on the side of the road until it cooled down, switched back to map 4 to enjoy the last little bit of my test ride at ludicrous speed, and returned to the dealership.


Alta offers what may be one of the best bikes in the world... for about 10 minutes.  It's everything that I want in a commuter or track supermoto, until the overheat light comes on and the battery is empty- I can't imagine what kind of riding is required to make the advertised 60 miles of commuting, or 40 miles of sport riding, and while it may be possible to squeeze out something close to that in map 1 it would be hard to have much fun while doing it.  That would almost be forgivable if not for the fact that the claimed capability for 20 minute race sessions is absolute bullE36 M3- if it overheated after less than 20 minutes of my normal backroads commuting pace, there is absolutely no way it's making it 20 minutes on a track without issue, and I'm pretty certain the battery would be empty by the end if it managed to stay cool enough anyway meaning your sessions would need to be several hours apart to give it enough recharge time.

I LOVE how well the bike works, it's just a shame it can only do it for a few minutes at a time.  I'm very interested in seeing what it evolves into, and hopefully the future brings a more sorted system with more range, but for now it hasn't got the range to take me to work OR the cooling to make it through a supermoto practice session (much less a race) so I'll keep watching and check back in a few years.

bigeyedfish New Reader
8/13/18 8:58 a.m.

Good review!  I am really interested in how these develop.  This would be awesome for my commute if the range and heat management was there, but I've got about 35 miles each way, almost entirely back roads.  Maybe in a few years.

What's the ballpark price range?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 9:07 a.m.

In reply to bigeyedfish :

$13-14k seems to be the going range new, although I could have left the dealer with the demo model (~160ish miles on the odometer) for about $10k.

Run_Away HalfDork
8/13/18 9:26 a.m.

Noob questions: is the battery swappable? How long does it take to recharge?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 9:53 a.m.

In reply to Run_Away :

Not swappable, claimed 6hr recharge on 110v- WAY too long if it can only run for 20-30 minutes.

Don't be shy about questions, that's the point of the thread!

EvanB MegaDork
8/13/18 10:09 a.m.

Have you ridden the Zero FXS? 

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 10:11 a.m.

In reply to EvanB :

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
8/13/18 1:12 p.m.
EvanB said:

Have you ridden the Zero FXS? 

I'm curious about them as well.  How about Brammo, did they go away?  They were selling electric motorcycles for a while but haven't heard anything about them for a while.  It will be interesting to see how the electric motorcycle market develops in the next few years.  Harley is supposed to be bringing their electric bike to production, and Indian raced one at Pikes Peak.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 1:48 p.m.

In reply to stuart in mn :

Brammo was bought by Polaris and then disappeared, I think.  I remember reviews saying that they were the only manufacturer who didn't greatly inflate their range figures.  I always thought that their choice of a gearbox and clutch for the Empulse in spite of being electric was interesting, and they looked pretty neat to boot:  

singleslammer PowerDork
8/13/18 2:16 p.m.

Any 220 v charging options?

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 3:14 p.m.

In reply to singleslammer :

I believe it's standard on the Alta, optional on some other bikes.

singleslammer PowerDork
8/13/18 3:44 p.m.

Ok cool.


I looked it up. 1.5 hour charge with 220v. If it can charge at a fast charge station, that helps. The distance is crazy low for a street bike though. 

The motocross version looks good though. If I could get 30 to 40 miles of trail riding, that would be pretty good. Also, claimed weight of 259 lbs is really enticing.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/13/18 4:03 p.m.

In reply to singleslammer :

You may be able to get a decent distance in tighter trails, assuming that speed is the main problem for battery life.  Faster stuff would probably put your range around where my test ride was.

clutchsmoke SuperDork
8/13/18 6:06 p.m.

Thanks for the write up! This pretty much confirms my fears about current electric motorcycles. 

44Dwarf UberDork
8/13/18 9:07 p.m.

A shop that helps me out racing sells them they have demo days often at the three local MX tracks.  I haven't had the time to go test one yet i want to try flat tracking one!  Preston Petty (yes the 70's fender king) Flat tracks a Zero brand bike but its heavily moded.


problemaddict HalfDork
8/18/18 6:24 p.m.

Thanks for this sober review! I'm super interested in ebikes, i've built two electric bicycles now, and am seriously contemplating a motorcycle.
At first, I loved Alta, but then some of their cocky marketing started to annoy me.

I look forward to your Zero review.  I tried to setup a test ride for today, actually, but the local dealer is out of stock and waiting for more bikes to show up ( I guess a good sign!).  If the FXS feels at all "hooligany" I'll probably have a hard time saying no to one.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ UltraDork
8/18/18 6:54 p.m.

In reply to problemaddict :

Heh, I was supposed to ride an FXS today as well, and the dealer didn't get their new demo model yet, so we're in the same boat.

Cotton PowerDork
8/19/18 10:07 p.m.

I looked into the Zero DSR.  It is a very cool bike,  but costs more than I paid for my BMW k1300s new.  At that price point there are a lot of options unless you’re shopping electric only.

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